Asharq News Launches Breakthrough Vertical Streaming across Digital Platforms First of its kind in the Arab World

Asharq News, the leading multiplatform economic and political news service, has achieved a leap in delivering news content across multiple platforms with the launch of a mobile vertical live streaming format based on artificial intelligence, for the first time in the Arab world, making it only the second media entity across the globe to offer this service.

Asharq News now leverages the state-of-the-art Auto ReZone solution from French tech company Wildmoka that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning, to enable automatic, 24/7 and real-time transformation of horizontal layouts into vertical.  

In this context, Dr Nabeel Al-Khatib, General Manager of Asharq News, said: “At Asharq News, it is our core priority to provide a seamless and impactful experience for our audiences in the Arab world and beyond through leveraging cutting-edge technology and implementing digital transformation.” He pointed out that media consumption today is increasingly dependent on smart devices, media organisations need to take into consideration the rapid adoption of technology to ensure a smooth viewing user experience. “Asharq News is seeking to lead this transformation in the region.”

The case for providing content in a vertical format is clear. A large majority of people, especially among younger generations, do not turn their devices when watching videos on mobile. This is due to the basic ergonomics of mobile devices that are designed to fit into the palm of the user’s hand. It requires two hands to hold a phone horizontally, so it is more convenient and natural for people to hold smartphones vertically when watching video.

Steven Cheak, Creative Services and Digital Director at Asharq News commented: “With this breakthrough solution, we can finally resolve the challenge that has puzzled news broadcasters for years – despite smartphones becoming the primary channels for news consumption, news broadcasters continue to produce horizontal, linear format TV content.  With Auto ReZone, we simply send our horizontal 16:9 live streams to the cloud platform and the solution seamlessly returns the recomposed vertical live stream, keeping all the graphics and information intact.”

Steven explained: “Where recomposition is not required, we developed dynamic backgrounds and logos where the show’s identity can be distinguished. The transformation is done automatically and in just a few seconds, ensuring minimal delay between the original live stream and the newly generated vertical stream. Moreover, this breakthrough and seamless solution is on for 24/7 and does not require any additional manpower or resources.”

Phase one of the vertical streaming was deployed in February 2021 across Asharq News’ websites, while phase two will extend the solution across Asharq News’ apps, Asharq NOW for video-on-demand, and other platforms.

The Wildmoka cloud-native technology is truly game changing and can, for the first time, transform horizontal frame layouts into vertical ones in real-time. Auto ReZone works for live, recorded, and archived content. With more and more phone users recording content vertically and given that the majority of social media applications today rely on a vertical interface, this solution marks a significant breakthrough in news gathering and presentation.

“We are delighted to see Auto ReZone entering a new region” explained Cristian Livadiotti, CEO of Wildmoka. He added: “We are sure that with this innovation, Asharq News will stand apart from other news providers and engage new and younger audiences”.

Livadiotti summarised the process of deploying Auto ReZone at Asharq News: “it is not a black box implementation” he said but is instead “a project where we first had the Creative Services team of Asharq News define the editorial style of their new vertical format”. Once the style was agreed on, “we configured and ‘taught’ the Auto ReZone AI/ML to execute the layout transformations to Asharq’s specifications. And finally, under the supervision of the system integrator Qvest Media and the Asharq Engineering team, the solution was smoothly integrated to Asharq’s workflow in a way that ensures the proper level of security and robustness needed for such critical 24/7 live programming”.

About Asharq News

Asharq News, launched on 11.11.2020, is a 24/7, multiplatform Arabic news service reaching across the Arab world and beyond with a unique approach: news and in-depth analysis reported through the prism of the economy to empower people in their everyday lives. The Asharq News experience is delivered to the audience through a dedicated television channel, as well as multiple digital platforms, offering continuous insights into the people, events, organisations and ideas that impact the MENA region and international markets. An exclusive content agreement with Bloomberg Media, the business and financial information news leader, powers a key component, “Asharq Business with Bloomberg”, drawing on Bloomberg’s comprehensive coverage from more than 2,700 journalists and analysts globally.

“Asharq Business with Bloomberg” aims to become the premier Arabic-language business news provider, using multiple platforms to reach business leaders, as well as a younger generation that understands the importance of global economic, financial and corporate information.

‘Connecting the Dots’ is Asharq News slogan that drives its journalistic work and sets its ultimate goal. The dots at Asharq News connect the news to its context, geographical setting, historical dimension, political depth, economic impact and social reality. Asharq News targets decision makers, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and political and technology leaders through its economic content, as it addresses all aspects of political developments from an economic perspective.

Asharq News is headquartered in Riyadh, with central offices in the Dubai International Financial Centre, UAE, and Washington D.C., and has major hubs and studios in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. It also has regional offices and correspondents across key Arab countries and in global capitals. Asharq News is owned by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG): we belong to a large and well-established media conglomerate and family.

Established in London in 1978, SRMG is the Middle East’s largest publishing group and only publicly listed media company, with more than 16 publications and digital platforms providing the latest in political, financial, sports, and lifestyle news and analysis. Within its first 3 months of launch, Asharq News was awarded ‘ME Innovative Project of the year’ 2020- at the annual BroadcastPro Annual Summit & Awards and shortlisted as trendsetter.

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